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10 predictions for UK magazines in 2010


Richard Sharpe’s 10 predictions for UK magazines in 2010

1 There will be plenty of launches despite the recession. These will come from new publishers who believe in their project, not from the established publishing houses. These new publishers will use the Internet as their medium. They will fill all types of niches, telling the world about their passions.

2 Established publishing houses will continue to be frightened of launches. They don’t have the bottle in this perfect storm of recession and a change in media. They don’t have the cash, even if they have the ideas.

3 When the publishing houses do act they will look for yet more niches into which to subdivide their subjects. They will look for the new trends. Three that may be ripe for launches are:

a. Personal and family security in these times of alleged terrorist threat and concern over crime;

b. How to be even greener in your daily life; and

c. Advice on navigating the increasingly commoditised and choice-driven ‘public sector’ services of health, education and social services.

4 More companies such as retailers and banks will take to contract publishing as soon as there is an upswing or at least the down swing in the economy stops (ostensibly at the end of 2009). They will need to reconnect to their customers, their clients and their employees.

5 The finances of many publishing houses are worse than we think. There will be a lot of red ink in the results. Venture capitalists have already written off the whole of the £1.1 billion paid for the B2B arm of EMAP. Some smaller companies, especially B2B, will go bankrupt under the debt they carry.

6 Shareholders will start to get rough with directors who can’t get the finances back into the black. Expect heads to roll.

7 There will be more M&A at any sign of an upturn. More parts of the UK magazine sector will go into private hands and/or foreign hands. Haymarket and Dennis Publishing have been relatively quiet in this recession: normally they buy when others are struggling. Newspaper publishers may get into the sector; Reed Business Publishing will go. And BBC Worldwide will be dismembered by the Tories, if they get in.

8 There will be an early New Year cull of weaker titles. Expect some old favourites to get the axe.

9 More magazine publishers will move out of London: it’s expensive and journalists don’t do as much face-to-face work as they did.

10 The new word of the year is D for Differentiation. It follows the B for Brand of the turn of the century and C for Community in the past three years. See this from David Gilbertson, CEO of EMAP: “To my mind there are two ways you can attract audience quality, either through sustaining your uniqueness of content or through quality differentiation that the customer actually values and appreciates.”

11 Yes, an 11th. I’m poor at predicting the future and it may be completely different. Let’s meet at the end of 2010 and see which I’ve got right, and wrong.

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